Humility, in word and concept, is a paradox. It means the quality or condition of being humble, which means meek, modest, deferential or lowly. In contrast, the attribute of humility is highly praised. Humble people are advanced people.
Some folks even confuse humility with humiliation, being put-down, disgraced, degraded or shamed. There is absolutely no disgrace or shame in being humble. No, not a whit.
The root of humble is [Middle English from Old French from Latin humilis low, lowly from humus ground; See dhghem- in Indo-European Roots.] Some other relatives are Greek khamai, on the ground; Latin h ¿m³nus, human, kind, humane; Old Russian zem ¹, land, earth; and ZAMINDAR , from Persian zam ºn, earth, land. It sure gets around a lot for such an humble word.
In contrast to its earth orientation are some pretty lofty notions:
A very well respected source told us, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law." "Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness"
And, the late Mother Teresa knew that, "If you are humble, nothing can touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know who you are.
I have resolved this apparent down-up paradox by coming to understand that low-high is not the real dimension of humility. The essence of humility is in the false-true dimension.
Instead of "earth" I think of being "down-to-earth". This means being without pretense being my true, authentic, genuine self.
Instead of cowering or groveling, I picture the humble person as standing erect and naked. The humble one is not naked in a sexual sense, but in the context of being ones real self, withholding nothing from themselves, from God, and from fellow humans who need to see the total truth. The humble person has not the least taint of phoniness, but stands straight in the naked truth, in honesty.
So, I think of the humble one as candid, as real, as honest, as true to their natural being. If there are blemishes they show, but without any effort to hide them. If there are honors and beauties, they show also, but with no pride, no ostentatious display.
Or, it might be put another way Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It is thinking of yourself less.